感激之所以是一个有效的工具，主要原因在于“它是建立信任的前兆，” 阿拉巴马州伯明翰市桑佛德大学（Samford University）营销学教授贝特西•布格•霍洛威这样说道。而信任本身就是推动忠诚极其强有力的因素，无论这种忠诚属于何种类型的关系。同样，感激只有发自真心才有价值。
“它并非什么创造财富的神奇公式，”《一次简单的感激行为》（A Simple Act of Gratitude）一书作者约翰•克莱里克说。他于2008年开始写感谢信，当时他的生活和律师事务所都发展得很不顺利。事务所一直在赔钱，已经没钱再继续租写字楼了。“我没法像往年那样给我的员工发放圣诞节奖金，我非常难堪，”他回忆说。
文具礼品店“蒲公英天地”（The Dandelion Patch）的海蒂•卡莱特过去一直在写感谢信，但她现在找到了新的办法来维持生意的兴隆。她和她的朋友，也就是前面提到的豪华车租赁公司老板，想出了一个主意，举办一场客户答谢午餐会（她们当时认为这样的活动只会搞这一次），并邀请租车公司客户的行政助理们一道参加。
For years, Susan Whitcomb says she has made good use of gratitude at her Fresno, Calif.-based leadership coaching business, The Academies. This year, she decided she would write a list of "10 things I'm grateful about you" for each of her four staffers, which she says she'll give to them just before Thanksgiving. One of the notes acknowledges a colleague's "courage to stretch," learn to make sales calls, manage others, and her "commitment to make me look good."
While she admits that she cannot quantify how that has helped her businesses, Whitcomb says she knows it has helped during the recession's slowest months.
Gratitude is an effective tool largely because "it is a precursor to develop trust," says Betsy Bugg Holloway, a marketing professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Al. And trust itself is an extremely powerful driver for loyalty, no matter the type of relationship. Just the same, gratitude is only valuable when it comes across as genuine.
"It's not meant to be any magical formula for wealth," says John Kralik, author of A Simple Act of Gratitude. He started writing notes in 2008, as his life and law firm were both suffering. His firm was losing money and had lost its office lease. "I was very embarrassed that I couldn't provide the Christmas bonuses that I had always provided to my employees," he recalls.
So he wrote appreciation notes to his staff, and sent similar notes to clients who paid their bills on time. He wrote to his children, his friends, and to lawyers who sent a client his way. Kralik says one of the lawyers wrote back to him, saying that he had no idea Kralik would want a client like that. "If you like one, I have 10 more," the lawyer wrote.
He sees the link between the thank-you notes and his business thriving again. "As you take care of the paying clients, they pay even faster. They value you," he says. One client's timely check allowed his firm to relocate and pay the new rent. Others brought him more business. "When you're feeling especially crummy, it's a good time to sit down and write about 10 thank-you notes," Kralik says.
Heidi Kallett had been sending out thank-you notes, but she was looking for another way to keep her stationery and gifts stores, The Dandelion Patch, going. So she and her friend, the limousine company owner, came up with what they thought would be a one-time client appreciation lunch, and invited administrative assistants at the companies that used the limousine company.
The lunches work especially well because assistants are hardly invited to special meals but often watch their bosses head off to a fancy business lunch.